How does pain and suffering work for car accidents in no fault states?

Question

How does pain and suffering work for car accidents in no fault states?

Answer

If you live in one of the dozen or so “no-fault” car insurance states, it’s important to understand that pain and suffering damages (and any other non-economic damages, for that matter) are not recoverable in a typical injury claim after a car accident.

In most no-fault states, a person who has been injured in a car accident can recover compensation for medical bills and lost income, usually up to the limits of his or her own personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. But this compensation is paid by your own insurance carrier, regardless of who caused the accident (hence the “no-fault” moniker).

The one way you’ll be able to collect pain and suffering damages is if your claim meets the threshold in your state that lets car accident claimants “step outside” the confines of the no-fault system.

Some states have what’s called a monetary threshold -- meaning your injuries must have resulted in medical expenses that cost more than a certain dollar amount. In other states, only “serious injuries” can bring a claim outside of no-fault (the definition of “serious injury” varies slightly from state to state). A few states allow a claimant to meet either or both thresholds. (Learn more about States with Monetary Thresholds and States with Serious Injury Thresholds.)

If your car accident injury claim qualifies under whatever thresholds are in place in your state, you can file a liability claim against the driver who caused the accident. At that point, all options are on the table. You can get compensation for all of your losses stemming from the accident and your injuries, including pain and suffering damages and other non-economic losses that you wouldn’t be able to ask for under the no-fault system.

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